Roger Vaughan / AAP News
Hani Watson is probably the only Birmingham Commonwealth Games medallist to make reference to banana peel, potato, cherry and duck in her post-event interview.
The only thing more infectious about the Australian para powerlifter’s personality is the fierceness of her determination.
The 39-year-old recovered from a disallowed second lift on Thursday night to take heavyweight bronze behind Nigerian Alice Oluwafemiayo and compatriot Bose Omolayo.
It is Australia’s first Commonwealth Games para powerlifting medal since 2006.
Also on Thursday, three-time Games competitor Ben Wright had his best result when he took fourth in the men’s heavyweight.
Oluwafemiayo set a world record with her lift of 155kg and Omolayo reached 142kg.
After Watson failed with her second lift of 125kg, she went up to 127kg for the third and final attempt and nailed it.
“I was about to lose my banana peel up there and start crying,” Watson said of being on the podium.
“It’s just really overwhelming.”
She choked back tears when asked about late dad Charlie, who inspired her to take up weightlifting.
“My Dad would just be … you got me. He would have been very proud,” Watson said.
Watson has only been competing internationally for about seven months and was hoping for a top-five result in Birmingham.
“That’s a cherry on the cake, right there,” she said.
“I feel old sometimes, I’m 39 about to turn 40, and this is epic. This is a great 40 birthday present to myself.”
The reality of what she had achieved hit home at the Games opening ceremony.
“I am an elite athlete. I’m not just a potato at home, bench pressing and all that sort of stuff,” she said.
“This is real. This is epic.
“I’m an old duck, compared to some of these people and I’ve walked away with a bronze medal.”
Not managing that second lift was another important dose of reality and her elation when Watson managed the third attempt spoke volumes.
“Sometimes you lose a little bit of focus when you get up there,” she said.
“There’s people cheering, music blaring, that kind of stuff.
“But I’m an athlete who walks away and says ‘hey coach, give me five minutes, that was just a bit of a doozy and I want to smash it on the third one’.
“It’s totally fine.”